Religion And Me

I admit. I am not religious. It’s not hard for me to admit, but it’s hard for many people around me to understand. I am, after all, a black female, and studies have revealed black females to be the most religious of all groups of people. So, in a sense, I am a kind of an anomaly.

My irreligious nature makes me social pariah, even among my own friends, all of whom are religious. They’re not devoutly Christian or anything, but they attend church at least three times a month, pray before bed, and pray before dinner, and sometimes lunch. I do none of this. I usually just shut my mouth around them. Having met only one black person who didn’t care for Jehovah, I have been told repeatedly that I was headed to hell. One black man steadfastly walked in the other direction, declaring that he felt sorry for me, when I told him I didn’t care about Jesus, and another black woman asked flat out: “then who helped you to get out of bed this morning?” I would’ve given her some generalized scientific answer, except she was already walking away, with a terrified look on her face, I might add. And, then I had to argue with my own family members about why it’s wrong to have prayers in school. Of course, they just didn’t get it. Jesus was for everybody.

Anyway, a few years  ago, I’d boldly say I was an atheist, but to avoid shock and awe, I now say I am a secular humanist,whose eyes are watching the world and not the heavens. My parents don’t understand how I am this way, even though my brother is almost exactly like me.

Unlike many black folk, I wasn’t raised in a church. My paternal grandmother is the only dedicated, churchgoing person in my immediate and extended family. By that, I mean, she attends church like my friends do: three times a month minimum. She’s a well-respected revivalist/Pentecostal Christian, and I remember attending church with her at least twice in my lifetime, and during one occasion, I vividly remember sliding and ruining my Sunday dress in mud; my only Sunday dress. But since this occasion, and maybe one other time when I was nagged by a friend, I have avoided church. I go for special occasions, only–Christening, weddings and funerals.

Unlike my paternal grandmother, my paternal grandfather didn’t attend church, though he wasn’t necessarily opposed to Jesus. My maternal grandparents were the opposite of my paternal ones. They were drinkers, smokers and gamblers (my grandmother quit smoking less than ten years ago). Anyway, my parents and my aunts and uncles grew up church-less, maybe once in a while they attended, but they were never frequenters. Even so, they all claim to be Christian, god-fearing/calling people, but none attend church, really.  My own parents quote the Bible all the time, but neither attend church. My father swears he doesn’t care for Jesus, pastors or church, but loves quoting the Bible and denouncing people in the name of god. My mother, like pretty much all the females in my family, loves to sing religious hymns and call on god, but doesn’t attend church.

My older brother and me are interesting. We go through phases. The last five years we went through a Real Hebrews phase, where we got hold of the writings of Shadrock and swore we were the real Jews and we’d abstain from pork (which we never ate anyway), and he’d circumcise his son, which he did. That phase quickly passed. I attended a Nation of Islam meeting, and got scared by how militant it was, and I never went back, but since then we’ve since reverted to our atheistic existence.

Anyway, now I just don’t care about Jesus/Bible. I don’t have too much against them, except I suspect Jesus may not have even been a real person, and if he was, then he likely was not the walking on water, God-man the Bible says he is. And, the Bible is a little too fantastical for me, and digging into its history, you quickly find that it’s been tampered with and it’s not original, despite so many claiming it was inspired by god, whatever this means, since its ideas were not unique to the region it came from.

Some people think I am arrogant for not embracing god and I think they’re arrogant for claiming that they know the anthropomorphic god of the Bible (Jehovah) is real, and that HE (he’s a man, duh!) will pass judgment on me after death. They also accuse me of being Satanic, failing to recognize that Satan and god/Jesus go together like good and evil, and non-belief in one is, by default, non-belief in the other. Satan is a biblical concept, too, duh!

Anyway, I won’t apologize for my lack of faith in Jesus/Christianity. I think the Bible is an interesting and fantastical ancient book, but I can’t take it literally. Frankly, I can understand the appeal the Bible/Christianity has with black people. They need something to have faith in, since the realities of this world seem stacked against them. But, I am not a pacifist. I am realist. I rather deal with the reality than not.

Advertisements

About TCDH

Blogger with an opinion.
This entry was posted in Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Religion And Me

  1. Happy new year, Mel!

    Is being an atheist in Canada a thought crime like it is in the USA?

    “Secular humanist” is a nice term, although like most people I'm not sure I quite know what it means. I wonder also if you are closer to agnosticism than atheism?

    My only problem with atheism is that in a sense it is almost a religion in itself. I'm one of those people who believes that no man can truly understand the nature of existence, and thus to say there is definitely no God seems no more logical than saying there definitely is.

    Personally, I exist in a murky world between agnosticism and Christianity. A work in progress, and shall probably remain so.

    I have no doubt that Jesus existed. However, I agree that it's quite possible that he may have just been a regular dude. Perhaps one that was extraordinary in a human way (the Gandhi of his day, for example), or just someone who told a convincing yarn.

    Here is Oz we currently have an atheist PM. Which is neither good or bad, but I'm glad that it's not an obstacle the way it would be in some countries. I'd sooner trust an atheist than someone from the Christian Right.

  2. Mel says:

    @ Eurasian

    In Canada, we're not religious. While most Canadians may still attach themselves to a religion and celebrate Christian holidays, most live atheist lives. In Canada, wearing your religion on your sleeves will likely work against you, especially in politics.

    Yeah, secular humanist just means I care more about what goes on in the real world than what may go on after death or in the heavens.

    I disagree that atheism is like a religion. Atheists are not organized, nor do they speak as a single unit. Also, atheists are hard to pin down. Like I said above, many people in Canada live like atheists but many have never thought to consider themselves such.

    If I call myself agnostic, it may feel more dishonest. It's not that I feel I don't know but more like I don't care. In this sense, secular humanist makes more sense to me. I am more concerned with mortal matters than any spiritual/supernatural ones.

    PS. The thing about Jesus the Christ is that he's virtually indistinguishable from other god-men figures of the region, such as Mithra, Buddha, Horus, etc.

  3. kwamla says:

    Hello Mel,

    Some interesting comment here from yourself and Eurasian. I know you both from Abagond's blog. I have to say I was particularly impressed with your Ancient Africa/Egyptian knowledge in a post on Diop.

    I just discovered this link was intrigued by your thoughts about, apparent, lack of a religious position. I would agree with Eurasian on this point. Atheism is a religion just not in the same formal sense that we understand.

    Having said that though it is not at all difficult for me to understand how you have come to this position. I could probably say far more about this whole issue of religion than you would probably have time for. What I will say is this.

    From your study of Ancient African history you would probably be aware of an immense association with spirituality which would offer you a clue to where your true “religion” (whatever that maybe) lies.

    Feel free to check out my blogs for further insights

    Regards

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s